Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Detroit on My Mind

I still have flashbacks to the corned beef hash I ate at Russell Street Deli in Detroit more than a month ago that make my mouth water. It was perfect- a sublime mishmash of browned potatoes, sautéed onions, tender bits of corned beef, and farm fresh Michigan eggs. I stumbled on the place, which wasn’t on my itinerary, while exploring the city on assignment for Cleveland Magazine. It was a friendly little spot with a hippie ambience. Everyone’s seated at communal tables and my breakfast choice earned a “right on” from the server. This was one stop I didn’t have space to write about in Cruisin’ for Cuisine that appears in this month’s issue of the magazine.

There were lots more wonderful things about the trip that I would have liked to spotlight: the vendors at Eastern Market selling everything from grass fed beef and organic vegetables to hand dipped chocolates and homemade pies; a terrific Belgian tripple bock beer called Final Absolution from a Dragon Mead, a local brewery and the city’s first new one since Prohibition, that I sampled; and the appeal of Bellinis and Bloody Mary’s for brunch at Detroit’s Breakfast House and Grill, a restaurant notable for attracting a Sunday morning crowd that’s white, black, old, young, and downright toddling. I would have liked to give accolades to Executive Chef Jeff Rose who is a big part of why Symon’s restaurant Roast is able to put such great food on the table whether Michael’s there or not. The two met when Rose was cooking for Tribute, a highly acclaimed Detroit dining icon.

And I could have gone on for pages and pages about my tasting time at Goldfish Tea where I sat and sipped seven different leafy brews for two hours. I learned that the first steeping of green tea removes almost all the caffeine and any impurities so it is generally discarded. The leaves ca-and should- be used over and over again to brew multiple pots, each steeping producing its own distinctive flavor. Store owners Jim and Janice Girling have an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject, acquired when they lived in China, that they’re happy to share with anyone who asks. I lusted after the the yi shing clay pots they stock, made the same way for thousands of years, a tea travel mug that comes with a brewing basket, and bags of rare aged loose leaf pu’er teas that are as flavorful and nuanced as good wine.

All this just a couple of hours west of Cleveland on I-90. Go see it for yourself. Find places to stay and more things to do at

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